November 1999
s m u g
by Joe Procopio

Drunk 101

Everybody loves a drunk. Whether it be the melancholy humor of W.C. Fields, the dignified swagger of Dean Martin, or the testosterone bravado of... well, nearly every fraternity lush in academia, the traits tell no lies. If you can suck down a six-pack of Milwaukee's Beast through a funnel that 24 hours earlier served as the entry point for transmission fluid into a VW Golf and then wipe your chin and belch your Social Security number, let's face it, you're as cool as you need to be.

I myself have graduated from the Belushiesque pound-and-drown to the highball-in-hand, has-anyone-seen-my-tie Dean-o-matic style. My old 64-ounce Budweiser stein has grown a bit dusty, and I've become accustomed to a highball glass filled with something dark mixed with something bubbly. Soon, I imagine I'll move up to straight scotch, or maybe martinis, although I refuse to sell myself into the current martini craze. Young adults acting like old adults is almost as silly looking as the opposite, a sort of quarter-life crisis, if you will. I also eschew cigars, golf, sweaters, and magazines that don't have scantily clad women or rock stars on the cover.

I like drinking. I'm good at it. And not just the "I can drink forty eight beers and not die" good. I do it well. If I could make money drinking, I'd get bonuses. Quarterly.

(Editor's Note: Remember kids, alcohol is a drug too. For all you know, Joe could be penniless, lonely, and wanting both in the social and hygienic arenas... for all you know. So go easy on the sauce and stay in school.)

However, sometimes there's a little part of me that, I don't know, distracts the thinking part of me and sort of seduces me into getting ugly, bleached, stinking, three-sheets duh-runk. It happens all the time, to all of us. But I'm good at this too, and I've learned the stages. With help from various researchers, who have taken painstaking notes and measurements, I have gotten blotto down to a science.

Stage 1: Refusing
It holds true that the evenings I begin by refusing the first few drinks offered me are the ones where I end up emptying a fifth of Jack. So take note, if you don't feel like drinking, either have one right away to take the edge off, or call a cab before the nightmare ensues. This is one of the most overlooked stages, which is a shame because early prevention is so key.

Stage 2: Relaxing
After the first two drinks I'm in my normal routine, just hanging out, being smooth, having a good time, taking a load off. The most deceptive of the stages, stage two is almost always mistaken for a nice night out with friends.

Stage 3: Reveling
Usually accompanied by dancing, this stage is the latter of my normal drinking routine. By this time, I'm feeling great, not quite invincible, but definitely a few pounds lighter. If I go straight home after this stage, I've done my job.

Stage 4: Ranting
I'm not sure why, but at some point my speech becomes littered with the "F" word. Without fail. And my proximity to the public rarely puts any restraint on it. Also, I tend to get a little mean here. Requests of "Excuse me sir, could you keep it down" are usually met with, "First of all, shave your back..." and so on. This is still a familiar stage though, and there are quite a few of us who can recognize it, or, this late in the game, have it recognized for us, and retreat back to the safety of our homes before we embarrass everyone or at least receive a good pummeling.

Stage 5: Shrinking
The first of the unrecognizable or "too late" stages, shrinking can only be detected by the shrinkee, and, thus, rarely gets caught in time. Every once in a while, I can spot shrinking. People get bigger, words get bigger, the ground gets bigger, yet I am powerless to stop it. In a most fascinating aside, the stages have begun to speed up drastically at this point, actually breaking several laws of physics.

Stage 6: Crying
Don't laugh. And stop acting like it never happens to you. This is probably the most vulnerable point in human existence short of birth. It doesn't happen every time, but if ANY amount of tequilla has made its way onto my menu, I end up weeping profusely. Usually about deep things like my stinking life or a lost friend or relative, but also stupid things like never having been a professional baseball player or the being angry at the kid who broke the egg statue I made for my mom in the second grade.

Stage 7: Bargaining
"Oh God, just let me throw up. I promise I'll..."

Stage 8: Regurgitating
Look, you know it's coming. Don't make it such a big deal. Go to the bathroom, find a stall, and jump up and down in place. This usually gets it all out in one... heave. I know, it's disgusting, and I honestly hope you're not eating lunch or anything while you're reading this, but it's the dark fact of the social drinker. Sooner or later it's you. Note: If you've found that special someone to hold your hair, don't ever let them go.

Stage 9: Bargaining (reprise)
"Oh God, just let me stop throwing up. I promise I'll..."

Stage 10: Napping
I prefer to call it napping. After a hard night getting all tanked up and putting friendships and relationships and your general health on the line, you need some rest. So get home and get tucked in.

These are the things society doesn't tell you. It's hard to imagine W.C. Fields bargaining, Dean Martin crying, or John Belushi refusing, but it happens. It happens a lot. So now, when you get set to go on that bender, you'll be prepared. And if I see you out there, let me know if I've made a difference. Unless of course I'm at stage four. Then just leave me alone until stage six, at which point I'll have all the love in the world for you.

what are your tips when exploring the fine art of consumption?

in the junk drawer:

feature car
ac/dc gun
compulsion vise
posedown cheese
and such
and such
blab fan

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